USA –-Efforts to contain a large wildfire in southern Idaho by Sunday evening were dashed as winds picked up and the region’s grass and sagebrush provided readily available fuel for a blaze estimated at 117 square miles.
But conditions improved elsewhere in the West, helping crews gain ground on wildfires in Colorado and Utah.
The fast-moving fire west of Twin Falls, Idaho, was first spotted Saturday afternoon and grew to 75,000 acres within 24 hours. The wildfire initially threatened a handful of homes near the hamlet of Roseworth, 25 miles southwest of Twin Falls, but winds shifted and moved the blaze north.
By Sunday morning, no structures were being threatened by the fire, which was 20 percent contained. Crews had hoped to have the wildfire fully contained Sunday evening but weren’t expected to hit that goal, said Kyli Gough with the Bureau of Land Management.
“They had winds today that were kind of making it difficult to get a handle on it,” Gough told The Associated Press. “They’re not expecting containment tonight.”
In fire-ravaged Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper said Sunday that cool, wet weather allowed him to lift the statewide fire ban he ordered last month. The governor gave thanks to Mother Nature for “finally giving us some relief” as extreme fire conditions have abated in all of Colorado’s 64 counties.
Recent widespread rainfall allowed crews to gain the upper hand on several fires in Colorado, including the two most destructive in state history. The High Park Fire near Fort Collins was under control, while the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs was 98 percent contained.
In Utah, cooler temperatures and rain helped firefighters make progress on the state’s largest active blaze. The 108,132-acre Clay Springs Fire burning in steep, rocky terrain in Millard and Juab counties was 85 percent contained Sunday. Its cause remained under investigation.
In Kane County, the human-caused, 8,200-acre Shingle Fire was 50 percent contained. Evacuation orders remained in effect for Stout Canyon subdivisions and portions of two subdivisions south of Highway 14.
In Carbon County, the lightning-caused 48,397-acre Seeley Fire near Huntington was 47 percent contained Sunday.
In Montana, the state’s largest wildfire remained 85 percent contained Sunday, an estimate that was unchanged from late Saturday. Nearly 800 firefighters were working on the Ash Creek Fire about 10 miles east of Lame Deer. That fire was expected to be fully contained by Monday.
Progress that fire crews made on other blazes around the state, including the Horse Creek and Powerline fires west of Colstrip, allowed managers to send more resources to the Taylor Creek Fire southeast of Ashland. That blaze had burned about 94 square miles and was 60 percent contained.
In Washington state, a wildfire burning grass and brush between Entiat and Chelan has increased from 250 to nearly 600 acres. Two helicopters and an air tanker were requested to aid crews working on the fire as it grew Saturday amid hot temperatures and low humidity.
In northern California, fire officials said a wildfire near Highway 395 on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada was 60 percent contained. The Fish Fire had consumed about 1,100 acres west of the highway near the Inyo County community of Big Pine.